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Coffee stimulates digestion and protects against disease

According to a new scientific review supported by the Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee (ISIC), drinking coffee has many health benefits. Coffee consumption not only stimulates digestion and helps colon motility, but can also change the gut microbiota, increasing the number of “good bacteria” from our stomach. Moreover, it can protect against liver disease and reduce the risk of gallstones.

By reviewing 194 research articles, a team of scientists led by the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM) has found that drinking moderate amounts (three to five cups per day) of coffee can be highly beneficial for our health. 

Most of the studies shown that coffee is associated with gastric, biliary, and pancreatic secretions, which are all crucial for the digestion of food. By stimulating the production of gastrin, hydrochloric acid, and cholecystokinin, coffee helps our organism properly digest a large variety of foods. Furthermore, coffee stimulates colon motility – the process through which food travels through our digestive tracts – and can thus reduce the risk of chronic constipation.

Drinking coffee regularly can also change the composition of gut microbiota, increasing the numbers of Bifidobacteria, inhabitants of our gastrointestinal tract that help break down food, absorb nutrients, and fight off pathogenic micro-organisms. Finally, although the evidence is still scarce, coffee may also help protect against more serious diseases, such as hepatocellular carcinoma. 

 “Contrary to some assumptions, coffee consumption is not overall linked to bowel or digestive problems. In some instances, coffee has a protective effect against common digestive complaints such as constipation,” explained study lead author Astrid Nehlig, the Emeritus Research Director of INSERM.

“Emerging data also indicate there may be an association with improved levels of gut bacterial groups such as Bifidobacteria which have recognized beneficial effects. Although additional data will be needed to understand coffee’s effects throughout the digestive tract, this is an extremely encouraging place to begin.”

The study is published in the journal Nutrients.

By Andrei Ionescu, Staff Writer  

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